Michigan lawyers interested in improving their practices both economically and professionally can now get help by purchasing a State Bar publication containing the complete results of its 2003 Economics of Law Practice Survey. The survey is a project of the State Bar's Law Practice Management Section, under the direction of Vincent Romano, and has been conducted every three years since 1982. The goal is to update lawyers so that they can keep abreast of changes in the profession and provide cost-effective legal services.
Forty pages of tables and graphs track attorney and staff income, firm revenues and expenses, attorney and legal assistant billing rates, economic sentiment about the current and future environment for practicing law. Data is organized by respondents' office location, firm or organization size, years in practice, gender, work-status (full or part-time) practice classification and areas of expertise. A variety of office management practices and policies are tracked over time to denote productivity gains.
The survey was conducted by a leading expert in the economics of legal practice, Dr. Lawrence Stiffman of Applied Statistics Laboratory in Ann Arbor. Excerpts from the survey results were published in the November and December issues of the Michigan Bar Journal. Noteworthy findings show that:
- Median net income increased only 1.2 percent per year for all attorneys between 1999 and 2002 ($73,500 in 2003 and $71,000 in 1999)
- The median hourly billing rate for all private practitioners increased 4.4 percent per year between 2000 and 2003. ($170 per hour in 2003 and $150 per hour in 2000)
- Median overhead/attorney (total fixed office expenses/number of attorneys in firm) increased 4.1 percent between 1999 and 2002 ($55,000 per attorney in 2002 and $49,000 per attorney in 1999)
- Over time, changes in net income varies by legal specialty. Family practitioners saw a 22 percent increase in net income since 1999 (median 2002 net income was $61,000), while litigators (excluding personal injury work) saw no change (median 2002 net income was $92,400)
State Bar of Michigan members can get a 15 percent volume discount if they purchase 25 copies or more at $32.25 each. The individual member rate is $37.95. The non-member rate is $77.95 per copy.
To order a copy of the survey online visit www.michbar.org/publications/content.html. Complete the publications order form and fax or mail it to the State Bar of Michigan, ATTN: Finance Department.